WILKES-BARRE TWP. — With Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in a close race to win the Pennsylvania Democratic presidential primary, another tight battle is occurring in the pursuit for top college softball team in Luzerne County.
The two top teams based on winning percentage heading into Tuesday, King’s and Misericordia faced each other, but unlike most elections, a definitive winner was unclear as the teams split a doubleheader.
The Cougars (24-10) pulled out a 6-5 win in the first game, while the Monarchs (17-9) notched a 5-0 victory in the nightcap.
“We played really good defense. The infield and outfield made really good plays all day,” said King’s sophomore pitcher Lindsay Hoerner, who twirled a three-hitter in the second game to earn her eighth win of the season.
The win also marked just the third time this season that the Cougars were shut out. The prolific Misericordia offense, which scored 237 runs heading into the day, was held in check and kept off-guard by the 6-foot-2 hurler, who didn’t allow a runner to advance past second base.
“I wasn’t expecting that kind of performance,” Hoerner said. “If I didn’t have my riseball, they would have hit more. I just kept things low then came back with my riseballs.”
Hoerner, who entered the game with a .404 batting average, was also the star offensively for the Monarchs in the second game as she went 2-for-3 and belted a monstrous three-run home run – her fourth of the year – in the fifth inning. The blast had fans behind the center-field fence turning their heads to see where it was going to land.
“I just wanted to make solid contact,” she said. “I don’t go out looking to hit home runs; when I do that, I usually strikeout.”
The Cougars also got solid starting pitching. Kat Lucenti picked up the win in the first game giving up seven hits and not allowing an earned run in the complete-game.
Katie Eiden pitched all seven innings in the second game and only allowed six hits and three earned runs.
The Cougars, who had 19 home runs as a team heading into the day, got back-to-back shots in the fifth inning of game one from Holly Sarnak (eighth of the season) and Nicole Hoskins (her third).
Gina Urbon was robbed of a three-run homer in the second game as King’s left fielder Leanne Harvey crashed through the fence but held onto the ball for the out.
“They should take a lot of pride out of here because we stuck with them,” Misericordia coach Charlotte Slocum said about her squad. “The first game was a very big win for us.
“We had timely hits and I think they showed what they can do when they play as a team. All in all, they had a great day and we will go on from here.”
The Monarchs will face Wilkes (24-12) in their regular season finale on Saturday before next weekend’s Freedom Conference Tournament.
The Cougars, who are tied for first place in the PAC, will face Cabrini on Friday before closing out their regular season with Eastern on Saturday.
The PAC tournament will also be held next weekend.
Notes: King’s was only shut out one time this season and has scored 143 runs, giving up only 80. … The matchup marked the last time both teams would face each other in a non-conference game as Misericordia will join the MAC Freedom Conference in the fall.
WP – Kat Lucenti, 7 IP, 7H, 5R, 0ER, 1BB, 5K; LP – Kelsey Shreaves, 7 IP, 12H, 6R, 6ER, 1BB, 3K; 2B— MU, Nicole Hoskins, Brittany Bradburn, Nicole Wenner. KC, Meaghan Galvin. HR— MU, Hollie Sarnak, Nicole Hoskins. Top hitters – MU, Courtney Novajosky 3-3, Sarnak 2-4, Hoskins 2-4, Bradburn 2-3. KC, Annie Drimones 2-4, Galvin 2-3.
WP – Lindsay Hoerner, 7 IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 5K; LP – Katie Eiden, 6 IP, 6H, 5R, 3ER, 2BB, 5K; 2B – KC, Hoerner, HR— KC, Hoerner. Top hitters – KC, Hoerner 2-3.